It’s autumn, and it’s getting cold. Plants are changing…some dying…some turning beautiful colors and dropping. Asters and mums are at their peak. What do you do to prepare for the next season, beloved restful winter?
dahlias after a frost
An easy list to do over the cooler days of fall. After the first frost, some plants that are extremely tender, will perish.
- Gather any seeds you wish to keep for next year (for me this includes cleome, cosmos, coneflower).
- Remove annuals that didn’t make the frost (this can change from point to point in your garden, depending on microclimates).
- Remove all tomato and pepper plants (These should not be composted).
- Remove any diseased plant matter and toss. This is anything that has a wilt look to it, powdery mildew, or black spot on it (Do not compost). Full list of problems at University of Illinois, Extension.
- Cut peonies down to the ground. Leave roots in ground.
- Cut back dahlia, caladium, elephant ears, glads, and any other tender bulb/tuber. Dig up the roots and store in newspaper in a paper bag in your basement or someplace cool and dark that won’t freeze. In spring, these can all be planted again.
Things to keep after the frost.
- Kale and chard can take the frost, and actually improve in flavor.
- Snap dragons, pansy, asters, mums will all like the cooler weather. It’s their favorite time.
- Leave grasses and seeded plants like coneflower for birds to eat and play in and for some added winter interest for you to look at when the ground is snowy white.
- Parsley, oregano, and sage seem to not mind the cold either, all should come back next spring.
Planning for next year.
- Take cuttings of rosemary, fuchsia, coleus. These will root in water and can be planted inside through the winter and finally transplanted outdoors in the spring.
- Plant garlic, tulips, crocus, and daffodil bulbs.
Cherish each season in your garden. The fall, a time to gather and and slow down.
As you sit in the garden, especially this time of year, things tend to look overgrown or dead. It’s harvest, but looking deeper, the small little flowers still have life in them. Enjoy!
Pansy has made it through the entire summer, still blooming.
Verbena has self seeded since the first year of the garden.
This mint has a home between the two, yes the weird two, fences between our garden and the neighbor’s.
German Chamomile that reseeds every year!
Cleome that also reseeds quite nicely.
This fuchsia is from a trimming of last year’s. Seems to have worked out well.
Johnny jump ups, that jump up everywhere!
Borage, the bees love it, but it tends to get BIG!
Rosemary flowering, this is first for me to see!
A common occurrence, Che Pug eating tomatoes.
Someone’s rock collections on the beach
Just an hour or so north of Chicago, near the Wisconsin border, Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach – State Park offers swimming/hiking/camping/picnicking! I went one hot afternoon in late August and found the beach a little rocky, but beautiful. There are also trails into the wetlands that offer up prime examples of the swampy marshes that used to cover the entire Lake Michigan area.
Feather in the sand.
The sand is beautiful, the waves soothing, and the water pleasantly cool. I’d suggest to take along some shoes or toughen up your feet for wadding.
I found the nature trail very enjoyable. It brings you down around a river where turtles sunbathe.
I startled a group of turtles on this rock. Note, when turtles are scared, they move quickly.
So many surprising wildflowers and gold finches everywhere.
Queen Anne’s lace
Prickly pear. This was a surprise for me. I thought they were only in South Texas.
Monarch on Liatris
Worth an afternoon visit, you won’t be disappointed.
It’s time! It’s time to harvest the garlic. When the top four leaves are about half brown, it’s ready. You are suppose to stop watering for a few days and then dig them out. I did neither. First of all, my garden is not very formal, and therefore, the garlic did not have a specific bed unto themselves. SO, I continued to water, and I pulled them out. You’ll have to decide what you want to do. I guess it all depends on your garden style and needs. The only thing that happened with my way was that I lost half a bulb. Not too bad.
After you’ve pulled your garlic, get them out of the sun quickly (they actually will sunburn).
Next, cure. I’ve placed mine on my back porch stairs. It’s cool and dark. They’re to cure for 3 weeks. After picking and the leaves have turned brown, you can braid the stalks or trim stalks and fibrous roots to half an inch. Remember, keep your bulbs dark and cool. In the meantime, I’ve used some uncured cloves in a spaghetti sauce (it’s also tomato time at my house).
Think about saving a bulb or two for seed to plant in the fall. Choose bulbs with large cloves. The larger the cloves, the bigger the bulbs will be for next year’s harvest.
Most of all, enjoy your home grown garlic!
This summer, I’ve been mostly away from my garden with a long trip to the West and West Coast (post soon) and a few trips to Minnesota. Little did I know when I said I wanted a meadow this past winter that I may have gotten it. It’s not really a meadow, but I did put out some wildflower seed. The only things that seem to have taken hold, wildly, are flax, sunflowers, bachelor buttons, and a poppy.
bachelor buttons or blue cornflower
love in mist mixed in with the strawberries
pale pink poppy
Personally, I like a self seeding garden with the likes of:
- love in midst
- cone flower
- snap dragons
garden helper Che
sweet alyssum with blue denim salvia
miniature pink hollyhock, a biennial
cone flower that is a perennial but also seeds new plants each year
sun gold tomato with a sunflower in the background
Mixed in with perennials and a few annuals, they make for a very full garden. Lucky for me, I’m back just in time for my tomatoes, along with lots of weeding and thinning. One thing I did try earlier this season with some arugula from my sister-in-law’s garden was arugula pesto. Substituting arugula for basil. I also used pecans to try to sweeten it up some. It had a pretty bitter bite, but was tasty as a topping on pizza. Who knew? Hope you too are enjoying your mid summer garden.
This year, we had another strange Spring. Cold/Hot/Cold? And now early Summer seems to bring the same thing. Most of my tulips were very short lived. They got one day to shine. Looking at the weather today, it seems like we’ll be heading back to cooler temps next week. We’ll see… In the meantime, enjoy some early Summer blooms!
columbine is such a wonderful early summer plant, reseeds readily
bleeding heart, a cottage garden favorite, blooms just in late spring/early summer
I always provide water for the birds, keeps the cats happy.
a few begonias to a shady spot adds just enough color.
After months upon months of grey and brown tones, I’m happy to see the colors start coming to life. Spring brings sweet smells of hyacinths and pansy.
Each year I either force some hyacinth (this requires a little planning) or buy some in late Winter so I can enjoy them when I really need it (like when the snow keeps falling and I find tears streaming down my face). After they’ve bloomed, I plant the bulbs in my garden for years of enjoyment.
I also start seeds on the radiator and then they live in the closet under lights for about 6 weeks or more. I’ve just started introducing them to outdoors for a few hours each day to get them ready for transplanting. Can’t wait.
Early tulips, grape hyacinths, and these little Einstein daffodils (always gotta have a smart guy in the garden) are up now, the beginning of my spring garden. More to come!
Whether you say crocuses or croci, they’re looking lovely in Chicagoland. They’re just plain cheerful. The beginning of our gardens! Today, I spent about five hours adding compost, outlining a new bed or two, and trying my hand at growing poppies again. I’ve not had any luck with poppy seeds. Fingers crossed this year. I also got my first lettuce seed in.
A good early spring checklist:
- If you haven’t already, trim back perennials that were left for winter interest. Don’t prune any spring flowering trees or shrubs. You may be cutting off the bloom buds.
- Stir up the compost bin and add to your beds and containers.
- Add extra potting soil to containers that need it.
- Mulch around trees.
- If you’ve got common orange day lilies coming out of your ears like I do, it’s easy to dig and thin them out now while they are still small.
- Divide perennials like ornamental grasses. For complete list, check out UM Extension site.
- Plant seeds that need/like the cold. The back of your seed packet will tell you when is the best time to plant. Right now, anything with 4 weeks or longer before last frost date can be planted here in Chicago. (I planted lettuce, poppies, gaillardia, and california pansy.)
- Inside, starts of tomatoes, basil, peppers should be underway.
Oh, how I wish this were happening outside.
That’s what is happening in my house… still cold, grey, and hibernating…
Well, it’s not the Spring we had last year, with temperatures nice and mild. But there is not a doubt in my mind that we will have more light and the warmer temperatures will come. I have a little yellow crocus up front just waiting for a good day of above freezing to pop open.
This winter has really been rough for me. So I’m looking at the bright side and highly anticipating the burst of growth that’s bound to happen. Like the day when the green buds on the trees provide the first “color” you’ve seen since fall? I love it. In the meantime, I’ve started my tomatoes, peppers, as well as some zinnias and daisies in the closet. They’re just babies, but growing well.
buy yourself some flowers!
This winter is so long and drawn out this year. Getting 6 inches of snow on Tuesday didn’t help. Luckily it is time for the Chicago flower and garden show! You’ve got until March 17th to go… go… go, you’ll be a happier individual for it. The streams, ponds, and beds of tulips were magical. One water feature used dry ice to create the appearance of fog or a morning haze.
Some interesting ideas for window boxes this year too. The best two, in my opinion, were the lavender-ranunculus one and the edible one.
edible box with chard, fennel, pansy, nasturtium
I was excited to see a nice vertical box as well as these twig spheres. New projects to do this year for sure.
Everything smelled fresh and wonderful. They had some centerpieces on exhibit as well as beautifully designed walking paths. Really helps getting through these last moments of winter.
even a gnome cake to make you smile